Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Power of Positive Peer Pressure

Today, we will talk about write-ins. If at all possible, I would encourage you to find a local group and see if you can meet at least once this month. Yes, not everyone’s local chapter is exactly “local” to them. Yes, it might require driving a long distance. But write-ins are usually worth the extra effort it takes for you to get there.


There’s something very encouraging about meeting with others who have decided to participate in this challenge. You will meet new people. You will laugh. And you will write.

I’ve mentioned before that I work best in silence. Now, while the main goal at a write-in is to write, it’s also a chance to bounce ideas off of people and brag about your latest word count. There is a lot of talking at a write-in. On the days when my local group meets, I usually could have gotten more writing accomplished if I’d stayed at home. But I choose to go because the company and the atmosphere is worth the trade off in word count. That, and my family doesn’t care if I’ve finished the difficult scene or written 15,000 words. At least, not as much as my NaNo group.

You Will Write

Yes, this is an obvious point. But if your environment at home is driving you nuts and you’re having a hard time writing, pack up and go to a write-in. See if having others experiencing the same problems will motivate you to write more. And a different atmosphere is always a good thing to try during NaNo. You might like where the group meets and decide you can visit that place or somewhere like it to help you write.

New Ideas

Ever reached a point in your story where you’re stuck? You need a character or country name, and your brain is not cooperating? If I’m at home when this happens, I either take a break or go to the forums. I’m the type of writer that cannot go (Name here) and keep going. I have to have a name. The right name.

I’m bad sometimes about coming up with names. Certain ones come to me right away. Last year, I knew the princess’ name was Jasmine, and the clergy’s name was Trevor. I knew the princess had four older brothers and one older sister. I knew none of their names. I went to the forums and asked. Some lovely person gave me at least four of the names I needed. It was awesome, but I had to wait a few days for the names. That worked because I was  planning and didn't need it right away.

I was at a write-in a few weeks later when the princess had an argument with her mom. It ended badly. The head of the Royal Guard entered to escort the princess away. I knew that this man would be an important part of the story. I knew he was a good guy, but also a good guard. He needed a name. But I didn’t have one.

So I turned to my writing friends and explained I needed to name my guard. One of the first suggestions was Marcus. I liked it and moved on. It took mere seconds instead of days.

If you’re wrestling with a problem or struggling for the right word, see if any of your writing buddies can help you.

Word Wars

This is one of my favorite parts of NaNo. Word wars are a timed challenge to write as many words as possible within the given time frame (usually 15 to 30 minutes). I usually don’t win word wars, but I love them anyway. I’m impressed at what I can come up with in 15 minutes.

Positive Peer Pressure

If you’re having a hard time completing your quota, attend a write-in. Having five people around you all working on a story might be the push you need to get past your own barrier. This is another advantage of word wars – if everyone’s writing, you’ll want to join in. You may be the loser of the word war, but you may have written more in that time than you might have written otherwise.


Did I mention write-ins are fun? They’re a break from the monotony of staring at your computer screen and the same four walls where you do the majority of your writing. You can try that pumpkin spice latte everyone’s raving about. You can read aloud a line you’re proud of. You can focus. You can celebrate the craziness that is NaNoWriMo. And that atmosphere of celebration and expectation will help you get a little closer to that ultimate finish line.

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